Monday, April 14, 2008

Introduction, part three

Now I turn to my "kids" who have chosen not to be part of my life. I'll try to be as diplomatic as I can, but understand I am sometimes very (dare I say it?) bitter about their rejection after I did so much for them.

Leslie, now 23, came to us from Korea at the age of 3. As you can see from her picture, her circumstances in Korea were pretty dire and her future likewise was pretty bleak. She has severe cerebral palsy and is totally dependent on others for all her personal care. She is also intelligent. When she was about to enter kindergarten, I insisted that the school district educate her in regular classes, which at the time had basically never been done in our school district. She now lives on her own with a part-time caregiver to help her and she attends community college.

Hollis, now 24, also came from Korea at age 3. He has mild cerebral palsy and has many indications of Fetal Alcohol Effect, namely poor cause and effect thinking and an inability to learn from his experiences. He works in a nursing home and lives with his brother Cedric.

Cedric, now 25, was also adopted at age 3. He has spina bifida. He does not work but lives on his own with Hollis.

Kristina, now 26, came from Russia at the age of 11. Her history and some of her personality traits also indicate the possibility of Fetal Alcohol Effect. She definitely had attachment disorder, and never bonded with me and never even referred to me as her mother (in conversation she referred to me simply as "she"). She could never forgive me for taking her from Russia and her favorite housemother, even though the housemother was desperate that Kristina be adopted because "there is only one future for a girl with black skin."

Misha, now 23, came from Russia at the age of 10. He was born with a form of dwarfism and had gone straight from the maternity hospital to a baby home (orphanage for kids under age 3). He stayed there until he was 10, because the director knew that the next and last stop for Misha would be a bleak institution for "invalids." He lives on his own and works at a movie theater.

Sergei, now 26, came to us one month shy of his 15th birthday. Like Kristina, he had been in children's homes since the age of 1, abandoned because he was biracial. He is a highly intelligent young man, but his emotional scars from being abandoned and from the devastating effects of Russia's racism run deep.

Suffice it to say that early neglect, abandonment, and abuse took their toll on these kids. And parenting them definitely took a toll on me. I was assaulted and emotionally abused. One child threatened to burn down my house (we found matches squirreled away in his drawer). For many of them, I was the convenient target for all the anger they felt for their birthmothers. All I can say is that I did the best I could, and the one small comfort I have is that the 5 who came from other countries got the opportunity to get an education which they never would have had in their home countries.